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DPChallenge Forums >> Hardware and Software >> Sigma 18-300 expectations too high?
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09/02/2020 11:53:12 AM · #1
Hi, I would love some input from you gurus.
And before we go any further - yes, I get 5* for being stupid, not just once, but twice. Having said that I really need to know what I can realistically expect.

I am so,so,sooooo disappointed. I travel a lot with my friend and she had this Sigma 18-300 and it was awesome. Whatever she needed to shoot she had the right lens. I on the other hand had my zoom and my wide angle and Murphy's law, wherever I was I either had the wrong lens with me, or the wrong one on the camera etc. So, when she changed to a mirrorless and sold this lens as her new camera came with something similar or better, I jumped at the opportunity and bought it (first mistake, I never "tested" it). She doesn't take a lot of pics and the lens is in excellent condition. It never occurred to me to "test" it whether I actually like it (dhuuu!).

I have just come back from an amazing trip to the bush. It was really unplanned a very last minute decision to go. But what a trip! I decided to test the new lens (second BAD mistake). I had superb photo opportunities. Everything from lion to squirrels and I took a lot of pictures of trees for a project I want to do. I don't have a laptop, so couldn't look at my images on a big screen until I was home .... and what a disappointment. The lens, in my opinion, is extremely soft. I honestly don't know if I can use these images in Photo Salons or photoclub or DPC for that matter.

Just to put you in the picture, I still use my Canon kit lenses (Zoom and wide angle which are almost 10 years old), a Canon 50mm, my favorite Tamron 90 mm and a Sigma wide angle. So I am not really a lens "snob" or spoiled with expensive lenses.I shoot with the 80D.

I took some Lensbaby shots of the wildlife and even those seem to be sharper than the Sigma lens :-(.

Someone suggested I have the lens "serviced", I am not sure if that will have any effect. As I said, my friend is not a big photographer by any stretch of the imagination and takes good care of her stuff. I can't imagine what type of service a lens could get to make it sharper (but then what I know about camera gear is borderline criminal).

Can you weigh in whether my expectations were just too high? Or if this is just a lousy lens for what I wanted to do, or if you feel, like I do, a lens is a lens is a lens .... it needs to take what is in front of it ;-P

Thank you

Message edited by author 2020-09-02 11:55:12.
09/02/2020 12:39:18 PM · #2
Did you look at the firmeware upgrade for sigma? they do have updated on and off and it is possible that the lens need some update.

Originally posted by kasaba:

Hi, I would love some input from you gurus.
And before we go any further - yes, I get 5* for being stupid, not just once, but twice. Having said that I really need to know what I can realistically expect.

I am so,so,sooooo disappointed. I travel a lot with my friend and she had this Sigma 18-300 and it was awesome. Whatever she needed to shoot she had the right lens. I on the other hand had my zoom and my wide angle and Murphy's law, wherever I was I either had the wrong lens with me, or the wrong one on the camera etc. So, when she changed to a mirrorless and sold this lens as her new camera came with something similar or better, I jumped at the opportunity and bought it (first mistake, I never "tested" it). She doesn't take a lot of pics and the lens is in excellent condition. It never occurred to me to "test" it whether I actually like it (dhuuu!).

I have just come back from an amazing trip to the bush. It was really unplanned a very last minute decision to go. But what a trip! I decided to test the new lens (second BAD mistake). I had superb photo opportunities. Everything from lion to squirrels and I took a lot of pictures of trees for a project I want to do. I don't have a laptop, so couldn't look at my images on a big screen until I was home .... and what a disappointment. The lens, in my opinion, is extremely soft. I honestly don't know if I can use these images in Photo Salons or photoclub or DPC for that matter.

Just to put you in the picture, I still use my Canon kit lenses (Zoom and wide angle which are almost 10 years old), a Canon 50mm, my favorite Tamron 90 mm and a Sigma wide angle. So I am not really a lens "snob" or spoiled with expensive lenses.I shoot with the 80D.

I took some Lensbaby shots of the wildlife and even those seem to be sharper than the Sigma lens :-(.

Someone suggested I have the lens "serviced", I am not sure if that will have any effect. As I said, my friend is not a big photographer by any stretch of the imagination and takes good care of her stuff. I can't imagine what type of service a lens could get to make it sharper (but then what I know about camera gear is borderline criminal).

Can you weigh in whether my expectations were just too high? Or if this is just a lousy lens for what I wanted to do, or if you feel, like I do, a lens is a lens is a lens .... it needs to take what is in front of it ;-P

Thank you
09/02/2020 02:09:41 PM · #3
Originally posted by kasaba:

It was really unplanned a very last minute decision to go. But what a trip! I decided to test the new lens...


That you took a previously untested lens on an outing like this is problematic, but we have all learned lessons the hard way.

OK, a couple questions...

1. Is yours the current, Contemporary release or an older one?

2. Did you shoot wide open? Zooms like that are often soft at the widest aperture and usually benefit from being shot at f8 or so.

3. Have you focus tuned it since and retested? If you have the current Contemporary version it is compatible with the USB dock and the software will give you the ability to calibrate at 4 focal lengths and 4 distances at each, which is a lot better than the 2 you get with Canon (and 1 with Nikon).

4. As mentioned is the firmware up to date? Both Canon and Nikon can mess with 3d party lenses so make sure you have the latest firmware on the lens (Sigma will do this for you free if it's not a dock compatible lens, you just need to ship).

5. Can you post an example of what you mean by "soft" along with pertinent EXIF data? There are tools that might be able to help you salvage some of your shots depending on the issue.
09/02/2020 02:42:48 PM · #4
I'd echo the thoughts that you need to figure out whether the lens is just that soft or whether it is a focus issue. I can say that with 3rd-party lenses, I have definitely found it necessary to do focus calibration with the USB dock. Note that this is an issue that only affects DSLRs; it does not affect mirrorless cameras because the main sensor is the AF sensor, thus if the AF system says it is focused, it is really focused.
Also agree with Jake that if you were shooting wide open, that is most likely part of the problem. A "superzoom" like this will need to be stopped down a bit.
09/02/2020 02:55:54 PM · #5
Originally posted by JakeKurdsjuk:

5. Can you post an example of what you mean by "soft" along with pertinent EXIF data? There are tools that might be able to help you salvage some of your shots depending on the issue.

Wouldn't some test shots be helpful here? Maybe graph paper shot from a measured distance using a tripod?
09/02/2020 02:57:48 PM · #6
All the above PLUS the fact that if you're shooting at the full 300mm hand-held you'd need to have a shutter speed of 1/500 at minimum to be reasonably sure of a sharp image...
09/02/2020 03:53:55 PM · #7
Originally posted by pgirish007:

Did you look at the firmeware upgrade for sigma? they do have updated on and off and it is possible that the lens need some update.

[quote=kasaba] Hi, I would love some input from you gurus.
And before we go any further - yes, I get 5* for being stupid, not just once, but twice. Having said that I really need to know what I can realistically expect.

I am so,so,sooooo disappointed. I travel a lot with my friend and she had this Sigma 18-300 and it was awesome. Whatever she needed to shoot she had the right lens. I on the other hand had my zoom and my wide angle and Murphy's law, wherever I was I either had the wrong lens with me, or the wrong one on the camera etc. So, when she changed to a mirrorless and sold this lens as her new camera came with something similar or better, I jumped at the opportunity and bought it (first mistake, I never "tested" it). She doesn't take a lot of pics and the lens is in excellent condition. It never occurred to me to "test" it whether I actually like it (dhuuu!).

I have just come back from an amazing trip to the bush. It was really unplanned a very last minute decision to go. But what a trip! I decided to test the new lens (second BAD mistake). I had superb photo opportunities. Everything from lion to squirrels and I took a lot of pictures of trees for a project I want to do. I don't have a laptop, so couldn't look at my images on a big screen until I was home .... and what a disappointment. The lens, in my opinion, is extremely soft. I honestly don't know if I can use these images in Photo Salons or photoclub or DPC for that matter.

Just to put you in the picture, I still use my Canon kit lenses (Zoom and wide angle which are almost 10 years old), a Canon 50mm, my favorite Tamron 90 mm and a Sigma wide angle. So I am not really a lens "snob" or spoiled with expensive lenses.I shoot with the 80D.

I took some Lensbaby shots of the wildlife and even those seem to be sharper than the Sigma lens :-(.

Someone suggested I have the lens "serviced", I am not sure if that will have any effect. As I said, my friend is not a big photographer by any stretch of the imagination and takes good care of her stuff. I can't imagine what type of service a lens could get to make it sharper (but then what I know about camera gear is borderline criminal).

Can you weigh in whether my expectations were just too high? Or if this is just a lousy lens for what I wanted to do, or if you feel, like I do, a lens is a lens is a lens .... it needs to take what is in front of it ;-P

Thank you
[/quote

Take this lens to a professional camera repairer, they are likely to have a lens machine which can test it sharpening up if required cost here would be $50.00 or so.
09/02/2020 04:55:07 PM · #8
Originally posted by GeneralE:

Originally posted by JakeKurdsjuk:

5. Can you post an example of what you mean by "soft" along with pertinent EXIF data? There are tools that might be able to help you salvage some of your shots depending on the issue.

Wouldn't some test shots be helpful here? Maybe graph paper shot from a measured distance using a tripod?


Sure. But when they're saying all the shots are "soft" seeing what they mean would help as well. I'm on a Nikon forum where I hear this a lot and over 1/2 the time it's not the lens but some form of user error that leads to it. It's very likely that this particular lens needs serious focus calibration on this particular body and seeing an image that has depth can help determine if it's front/back focus that's an issue as opposed to an issue with the optics.
09/02/2020 05:13:26 PM · #9
Originally posted by JakeKurdsjuk:

It's very likely that this particular lens needs serious focus calibration on this particular body and seeing an image that has depth can help determine if it's front/back focus that's an issue as opposed to an issue with the optics.

Sure, I was just thinking what might be the quickest and simplest test to do at home to eliminate at least one possible factor.
09/03/2020 02:28:41 PM · #10
Just tossing this out there as I read it on a thread about the Sigma docking station on another forum. They said that they had heard that Canon cameras tended to require more extreme focus calibration with Sigma lenses than Nikon. No source provided and I've not been able to verify, but if true this is likely the heart of the problem.
09/03/2020 03:03:48 PM · #11
Originally posted by JakeKurdsjuk:

Just tossing this out there as I read it on a thread about the Sigma docking station on another forum. They said that they had heard that Canon cameras tended to require more extreme focus calibration with Sigma lenses than Nikon. No source provided and I've not been able to verify, but if true this is likely the heart of the problem.


Dunno about the relative calibration deviations across brands, but at least within Canon it seems like the more modern AF systems need less in the way of adjustment. The OP's 80D is relatively recent, and I would not therefore expect that it would require any extreme offsets, but you never do know.

One test that I have found useful is the following:
- In bright daylight, set up a narrow object on a concrete surface. Set the lens aperture wide open, and make sure the shutter speed is more than adequate for the focal length, e.g. 1/500 or faster at 300mm, and the faster the better.
- Get down near ground level, brace the lens to avoid shake, and shoot the object, shooting down at about a 10 degree angle or so. Look at the in-focus area on the concrete; is it lined up with the object, or skewed frontward or rearward?
- Repeat the test two ways, first with the lens manually set to infinity before triggering the AF, and then with the lens set to close-focus before AF triggered. Is there a difference in the results?
- Perform the test both at nearest focus distance, and three to fine times farther away.
- For zooms, think about repeating at different focal lengths
09/05/2020 10:45:34 AM · #12
Thank you all so much. I must be honest, I never heard of docking a lens - I will read up on it, I don't think this one can do it.

A few comments:
Yes I often shoot wide open, because wildlife unfortunately has the habit of being around early morning and late in the afternoon. I need the max amount of light I can get.
Ditto on the F-Stop. I do sometimes shoot quite slow because of the light. I do shoot mostly hand held or I rest it on the car (motor off of course).

The 2 images below are some examples. The elephant were at mid day - max light. ISO 200, f7.1, 1/320 sec, focal length 250.
The Impala are a typical African morning scene, and it wasn't even that early in the morning. ISO 400, f6.3, 1/1600 sec focal length 250
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Both are obviously straight out of camera.



And as I am looking at the lens to see what exact model it is, I see its the 18 - 250 (more rolling eyes) - yes I did my homework REALLY, REALLY well. You have no idea how angry I am with myself. Definitely a hard earned lesson :-(
09/05/2020 10:45:35 AM · #13
.

Message edited by author 2020-09-05 10:46:11.
09/05/2020 11:14:05 AM · #14
It does look like there is some back-focus, but not dramatically so. The rocks just behind the impala seem to be a little sharper than in the same plane as the animals. Still pretty soft though. No sign of shake, and at shutter speed you wouldn't expect it.
09/05/2020 01:06:29 PM · #15
Originally posted by kasaba:


And as I am looking at the lens to see what exact model it is, I see its the 18 - 250 (more rolling eyes) - yes I did my homework REALLY, REALLY well. You have no idea how angry I am with myself. Definitely a hard earned lesson :-(

' . substr('https://www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21_F.gif', strrpos('https://www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21_F.gif', '/') + 1) . ' Ammie has had some nice results with that lens (Sigma 18-250)!
09/06/2020 12:48:55 AM · #16
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RGto_eAKcY
09/07/2020 06:24:53 AM · #17
I'm really thinking shooting wide open is at least part of the issue on the softness.

Curious, how warm was it? When shoot at long focal lengths heat can create the appearance of softness in your shots as noted here.
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